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Melissa A. Featherston

Avoiding child custody litigation may have long-term benefits

Missouri parents who are divorcing are often concerned with potential child custody litigation and the effects it could have on the long-term emotional health of their children. After a lengthy study into this issue that looked at families 12 years after the parents' divorces, parents can now have a better understanding of how their decisions during divorce can affect their kids for years to come. In this particular study, families were asked to either mediate to resolve custody disputes or pursue arrangements in court through child custody litigation. 

Parents who were assigned mediation instead of litigation found that the non-custodial parents were more likely to have had direct influences on many aspects of their children's' lives. Additionally, it was learned that over the years, more of these parents were able to effectively co-parent, allowing children to have more contact with the non-residential parents. It is known that it is extremely beneficial for children to be able to maintain strong relationships with both parents after divorce. 

Over time, it was found that parents who were assigned mediation were able to make needed modifications to their child custody arrangements over the years. It was suggested that this is related to the ability to work together to resolve issues that arise, even after divorce is final. The findings of the study indicated that even Missouri parents who have disagreements over custody during divorce can find long-term benefits in mediation and other methods of dispute resolution.

Custody and visitation arrangements are some of the most complicated aspects of divorces. It is not always possible to avoid child custody litigation, but it may be beneficial to consider all avenues before turning a case over to a judge. By learning to work together for the best interests of all parties, divorcing parents can develop a working relationship that will benefit them and their children for years to come.

Source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, "Child custody mediation and litigation: custody, contact, and coparenting 12 years after initial dispute resolution.", Accessed on March 4, 2015

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